In 1993, industry experts and other groups made various efforts to change the public's image of automotive repair. To combat consumer perception that most auto service outlets are fraudulent, California's automotive repair industry formed the Automotive Repair Coalition.
ARC's chief aims are to repair the industry's damaged image and find some common ground with investigative agencies and the consuming public.
The group was formed in February out of a mutual agreement between California automotive associations, aftermarket manufacturers, franchisers, franchisees, tire dealer associations and repair shops to jointly develop, with government, ``common industry repair standards, fair enforcement and uniform interpretation of the law,'' according to its by-laws.
Meanwhile, the Maintenance Awareness Program (MAP)-begun in June 1992 in the wake of the auto service fraud investigation of Sears, Roebuck and Co.-is trying to help the industry communicate more effectively with consumers, according to former Ohio Attorney General Anthony Celebrezze, legal counsel to MAP.
He told dealers at the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association's convention last September that MAP is working with regulators to devise industry guidelines and a code of conduct.
Also at the NTDRA convention, another effort was aimed at changing consumer perception of automotive repair. Jeff Sweet, executive vice president of The Sullivan Group, a Guilford, Conn.-based management consulting firm, took issue with a National Association of Attorneys General statement that the flat-rate manual cheats consumers.
``Our problem is we undersell, and as a result, we don't fulfill our responsibility as a transportation adviser to our customers,'' Mr. Sweet told dealers.
In October, witnesses told NAAG's Auto Repair Task Force that inadequate technician training-not deliberate automotive service fraud-is the chief cause of consumer complaints against auto repairers.